Although educational institutions have closed owing to the lockdown, teachers are still on duty. NT KURIOCITY learns how they are coping with the closure, imparting education these days, and more
RAMANDEEP KAUR | NT KURIOCITY
Schools and colleges may be shut owing to the coronavirus pandemic. But the duty of imparting education continues for teachers across the state, with the help of online resources.
“I first communicated with students via WhatsApp, sending PowerPoint presentations and assignments; and later through Zoom cloud meetings,” says associate professor, Padre Conceicao College of Engineering, Verna, Niyan Marchon. Classes are conducted online from Monday to Friday with a structured timetable, says Marchon, who has now begun using the Impartus teaching software tool by the National Institutes of Technology (NITs) and Indian Institute of Technologies (IITs), for his teaching purposes.
Assistant professor and head of department of mass communication at Don Bosco College, Panaji, Nikita Chodankar Dhuri has also been conducting virtual classes which she says is the most convenient and helpful way of reaching out to the students.
She has also shared digital references with her students and makes PowerPoint presentations to help them understand the study material better. “Students are quite comfortable using the digital platforms, and I am just one call away to solve their queries whenever needed. In such times, teachers should be available on email or phone to solve all their doubts,” adds Dhuri. In fact, Dhuri herself has personally availed of online courses related to her subject in order to improve her own skills and knowledge. “Some students have also availed of online courses based on my recommendation,” she says.
Associate professor, SS Dempo College of Commerce and Economics, Cujira, Smitha Bhandare Kamat was fortunate in that she had already finished the syllabus prior to the lockdown announcement. These days however she makes it a point to stay in touch with her students. “I am very active on Facebook and many students are on my friend list. This helps me solve their queries. Secondly each class has a WhatsApp group and this also helps.”
Assistant professor of English at Government College of Arts Science and Commerce, Quepem, Tanvi Bambolkar had also finished most of her syllabus and thus didn’t have to take any online classes. But she has been sending across various articles, video links, etc, to her students, and keeping in touch with them through WhatsApp.
WhatsApp and video conferencing have also helped assistant teacher at a secondary school, Aparna Kamat to stay in contact with her students. “I would be delighted if someone suggests a more efficient and effective way to connect with my students wherein, I can correct their practice board papers and discuss,” she says.
Meanwhile at Ravindra Kelekar Dnyanmandir School (RKDS), Margao, teachers are posting online quizzes and activities through their school app. “The school has made it possible through the school app to upload video recordings of lessons or revisions by the teachers that will be helpful to the students,” says teacher, Blud Pamel Rodrigues. Besides this, students also email photos of all the creative works they are doing at home which is later posted on the school’s Facebook page.
Indeed, creativity at home is being encouraged by schools. An art teacher, Kalanand Bambolkar also uses the school app to indulge students in different art and craft activities. To boost this creative spirit, an exhibition of these works is being planned once school reopens.
At the same time, teachers are also ensuring that they are there to calm students down during these anxious times. “In the first week, I was helping students understand this pandemic and trying to calm them down. Our counsellor Melanie Braganza also helps us counsel students who are emotionally disturbed,” says associate professor, Dnyanprassarak Mandal’s College and Research Center, Assagao, Prashanti Talpankar.
The focus is especially on class 10 students says assistant teacher, GVM’s RPRS High School, Bandora-Ponda, Shodhan Kapil Khandeparkar. “Right now, class 10 students are in a confused state of mind and waiting to answer their exams. Some of them are worried about the exams and tend to call up just to talk and release their stress,” she says, adding that while she is not taking any classes from home, she has students contacting her via WhatsApp and phone calls to solve their study-related queries.
Assistant professor, Electronics and Communications Engineering (ECE) department, Agnel Institute of Technology and Design (AITD), Pramila Volvoikar and her colleagues are also assisting in e-learning by creating video lectures and PowerPoint presentations on a daily basis. Assignments and class tests are also conducted through Google Classroom. “Such closures will always have an impact on students and academics. But being in constant touch with students through messenger apps help us resolve their difficulties instantly,” Volvoikar says.
Balancing work and home life
Working from home while balancing other home responsibilities can be chaotic but teachers are ensuring that they stay on top of things. Marchon for instance admits that he is doing a lot more cooking apart from other chores. “The lockdown has increased my bonding with family and my prayer life,” he says, adding that he is also taking Harvard University EDx online courses.
Kalanand on the other hand was appointed as surveyor for the COVID-19 survey. “I took all the safety precautions while conducting the survey and at the same time I have also helped my family to get all the essential commodities,” he says.
At Smitha’s home meanwhile, every family member is pitching in to help with the household chores, which has helped her. Also, she states, owing to the lockdown her health has improved and she has sufficient time to also write, doodle and keep her students and herself engaged in a positive and constructive manner to cope with the lockdown
The same goes for Dhuri who is making the best use of her time to do the things she likes including cooking, exercising, watching movies, spending quality time with family, etc.
Aparna too, is efficiently juggling work and home responsibilities, but she admits it does get a bit difficult when students want to do a video conference call when she is busy with the housework.
Khandeparkar also agrees that balancing work and home life is easy as they are at home all the time. But she misses working in the school environment.
Talpankar meanwhile is ensuring that apart from her usual home chores and work responsibilities, she makes use of the extra time well, with the help of her household help, who couldn’t go to her native place due to the sudden lockdown. Apart from her college and household work, she has managed to do a little balcony gardening, recorded a children’s story, recorded a video for elderly and she has done voiceovers for four videos on creating awareness for COVID-19 for adults, children, disabled and women for Goa-based NGO Sangath in collaboration with Centre for Mental Health Law and Policy, Pune.